The school system in Bremen envisages that the majority of the refugee youths who are older than 16 years and come to Bremen, will be schooled at vocational colleges. There, they have two years to get a BBR (einfache Berufsbildungsreife, Basic Vocational Qualification), or an EBBR (Erweiterte Berufsbildungsreife, Advanced Vocational Qualification). During this period of time, the students face the challenge of not only attaining language proficiency level B1, but also of pursuing more specialist education.

The union GEW claims that enrolment in and completion of vocational education has to be handled flexibly, especially for refugee young people. "It is utopian to think that the majority of young people who have just arrived in Germany will, within two years, acquire the advanced vocational training qualification and German language skills at B1 level," said GEW spokesperson Ina von Boetticher.

Despite their initial motivation, refugee adolescents have two years to catch up on nine years of previous schooling, in often very heterogeneous classes. Few students manage to reach the required level of language proficiency (B1) within two years. For this reason, in many vocational schools, informal arrangements are set up and the young people have the opportunity to repeat the last school year. The union considers that offering children a third year is only a first step in terms of extra support required to accompany these students with specific educational needs.

"Integration needs enough time and resources. The Education Department must act in a timely manner to relieve the teachers in the schools and offer young people a school and career prospects. Enabling a third school year for the adolescents is just a start here, "said GEW spokesperson Ina von Boetticher.

Take a look at the May Day joint GEW-Bremen Refugee Council press release (in English).

You can read more about the GEW’s position on refugee education in the following press release (in German).